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Ethically Monitoring Your Kid's Net Access 401

Anarchitect writes "My step-daughter is almost 11 and, though she's only with her mother and me every other weekend, I would like to provide her with (relatively) unfettered 'net access. Since we all know that the CyberPatrols suck, both technically and ethically, what's the best solution for me (as a part-time parent) to keep an eye on her surfing? I'm not interested in blocking her access, only an awareness of what she surfs so that if I find it to be a morally touchy issue, we can discuss it. Any other parents (or equivalents) who have found a good solution for this?" For starters, Salon's article on censorship and kids, The Morality Police, is a must-read.

"She will be using a Mac, so I s'pose Apple's KidSafe is an option, but I'm not really keen on the concept - seems a little too limiting - kinda like going to the library and only having access to the encyclopedias. Any ideas?"

Jamie wanted to add a few comments:

Yes, KidSafe is a whitelist. Basically you'd be allowing access only to a carefully chosen, tiny fraction of the web. It's exactly like going to the library and only being able to look at the reference section.

If that's what you want and that's all your child is ready for, I can't see any problem with this. It's honest because everybody knows what they're getting. When they want out of the sandbox, they'll let you know.

Here are my suggested rules of the road for kids on the internet, basically a 21st century version of "don't take candy from strangers." What do I have wrong, or what did I forget?

For parents:

* Put the family computer in a family room.

* Be prepared for freaky questions about things seen online -- and let kids know they can ask about anything they see.

* Be prepared in case you learn they are looking at things they shouldn't. Not that this will necessarily happen. But if it does, your gut reaction may not be appropriate -- consider what you'll say.

* Along with that annoying "what'd you do in school today?", try the equally annoying "what'd you find on the internet today?"

* If you use spyware to keep track of what your kids are viewing, let them know. If you don't, let them know you trust them! This is a trust step like the first time they ride a bike past the driveway, or spend overnight at a friend's house. It's your judgement when they're ready.

For kids:

* When you chat online, you don't know who's on the other end. Even if you've talked with them for a year, you still don't know!

* A rule: never type your last name or your city. (First name and state are OK.) Or, make up a fake name, that can be "who you are" online!

* A very important safety rule: meeting online strangers may be allowed (but mom or dad will be coming along). If kids promise to ask, parents promise to talk it over.

* When you're looking for something, use the Google search engine. (Among its other benefits, it's the most kid-friendly.) Always start your search with at least three words. Any fewer, and you're probably just wasting your time. Parents can help you learn how to pick three good words.

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Ethically Monitoring Your Kid's Net Access

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    The most important lesson you can teach a new Net user, regardless of their age, is that the Net is real. Things you do on the Net have real consequences. The people you talk to on the Net may be lying about themselves, but they are real people. It is not a toy or a role-playing game, although just like any other part of the real world, the Net *includes* toys and role-playing games.

    "Safety" tips like "never reveal your real last name!" encourage the belief that the Net is somehow separate from and less real than the rest of the world. In the long run, this is an extremely dangerous attitude to teach to Net users. The Net is unsafe partly because people think that's a good safety idea. Do not do it. Anonymity has its place but should not be the automatic default.

    Fully conscious of the irony of posting this as an AC - actually, my real name is Matthew Skala, I'm located in Victoria, British Columbia, and I'm posting as an AC only because I object to being forced to create an account. I fully expect that it'll never be modded high enough for anyone to read, but that's part of the price of my own safety policy.

  • by Alan ( 347 )
    ... and make sure you do it with this really threatening 1984 look when you say it... "we KNOW where you're going."

  • My step-daughter is almost 11 and, though she's only with her mother and me every other weekend

    By my standards this would qualify as a total wreck of a family, and accessibility of the Internet would be the least problem for the daughter.

    Then again, I am not American.

  • by Naikrovek ( 667 ) <jjohnson.psg@com> on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:03PM (#156383)
    Put your computer in the living room, or within eye/earshot of it. That way everyone who is in the living room will be potentially looking over her shoulder, a great incentive to not visit anything that would draw attention to her.
  • This is too complicated an issue to discard your entire argument out of hand, but when you say

    Would you let an 11 year old run around in the worlds biggest porn shop with people who regularly abduct children and plenty of other nasty things? Of course not... the internet is the same thing.

    you are missing an absolutely critical distinction: nobody can abduct, or even touch, your child via the network. A second distinction to be made is that not all of the net is pr0n. Comparing the net to a giant pr0n shop is like saying that the entire world is one because you could always walk from the public library to the red light district and buy yourself a dildo. Just as in meatspace, you have to go there of your own volition. It's just easier to get there, that's all.

  • Bah, kids deserve to have time to themselves too. They deserve to have private lives, and to even keep secrets. It's the way a kid figures out who they are, and get an identity seperate from their parents.

    Especially because she's only with them for a couple days they need to let go a little. It's all too easy to think, well, we only have her two days every other week -- then for those two days she's ALL OURS. But that's a messed up way to think about it -- she isn't anyone's, she's herself, she needs some control over her life... like having some input as to what she does from moment to moment, and who she does it with.

    This reminds me of the free speech notion -- that by being too restrictive of unprotected speech you can have a chilling effect on protected free speech. Similarly, by being to intrusive about inappropriate material, you can have a chilling effect on a child's curiosity about appropriate but -- to the child -- mysterious material.

  • > > > My step-daughter is almost 11 and, though she's only with her mother and
    > > > me every other weekend

    > > By my standards this would qualify as a total wreck of a family, and
    > > accessibility of the Internet would be the least problem for the daughter.

    > > Then again, I am not American.

    > What an interesting, ignorant thing to say, you Non-American, you.

    I can only assume the guy with three ">"s didn't notice the "step-" in
    "step-daughter". Divorce is pretty common in most western countries now.

    What's more worrying is that the mother and stepfather don't seem to trust
    the father (who I assume to be the guardian most of the time) to take charge
    of supervising the child's internet usage.

  • The difference is that it isn't the government that is doing the censoring. It's perfectly legal for private citizens to say, "I will not play that filth in my movie theater," or for stores to say, "I will not sell violent video games."

    Believe it or not most people (the customers) think that NC-17 rated films shouldn't be shown in "decent" movie theaters. Disney and the rest of the movie producers know this, and so they throw their weight around to guarantee that the truly adult movies stay where only adults are likely to go. The government is not involved at all. They don't rate the shows, and they don't enforce the ratings. The fact of the matter is that the MPAA has just as much freedom to say "this movie is indecent" as you have to make (and watch) movies that are indecent. However, since you don't own any movie theaters (I imagine) you can't force the theater owner to show the kind of movies you would like to see. It's his theater, and he will do as he pleases. This undoubtedly means that he will kowtow the MPAA line (because this is the most lucrative path), but that doesn't make it a free speech issue.

    Remember children, it doesn't have anything to do with "freedom of speech" unless the government is involved. On my property I make the rules as to what is "proper" speech, and if you don't like it you can leave.

  • Exactly, censorship is dangerous in the same way that prohibition was. You can't make people do the "right" thing. Trying to force people to make intelligent choices only makes things worse.

    However, this does not mean that alcohol isn't the root of a great deal of the more serious problems in the U.S., and it also doesn't mean that pornography is harmless. Some people can handle it, but many people only think that they can handle it.

    In other words, I don't want the government to try and save me and my children, but I don't believe the media either when they try to tell me that pornography isn't harmful. It certainly is harmful, but the only thing that I can do about it is stay away from it myself, and try and keep its influence from my family. When we try and force others (even if we are right) we only make things worse.

  • by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2001 @09:13AM (#156394) Homepage Journal

    My guess is that the reason your parents trust you is that you are trustworthy. I would also bet that either your parents are extremely naive (and lucky), or that you had already shown them from your actions that you could be trusted. My parents never followed me around making sure that I didn't do drugs, or what have you, because I showed them that I was trustworthy. I followed the rules they set, I tried to stay out of trouble, and I was respectful (for the most part).

    Most kids that complain about parental controls do so because they are not trustworthy. The real reason that they complain is that their parents are cramping their style. They want their parents to "trust" them, but only because it would give them an opportunity to do something they have been forbidden to do.

    So yes, how you react most definitely depends on the child. And sometimes there literally is nothing you can do. Some children turn out great no matter how stupid the parents are, and some children screw up no matter how much you love them and care for them. That's why having the government get involved with raising children is such a bad idea. Children are individuals, and need individual care.

  • by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:49PM (#156395) Homepage Journal

    No, the original poster has hit the nail square on the head. Keeping a record of where the child surfed is far better than simply signing up with some CyberPatrol. First of all you get to decide what is appropriate or not for your own children (instead of relying on someone else). Besides, squid at leats gives the child the benefit of the doubt. It doesn't block web sites (unless you tell it to) it merely logs where you have been without blocking off potentially useful parts of the web. It allows you and your child to decide together what is appropriate and what is not.

    Parents should know where there children are surfing. The Internet is a fabulous tool, but it is far from benign. If you think that everything out there on the Internet is suitable for 11 year olds, then I pray you never have children.

  • Kids are going to see and hear scary things, confusing things, dangerous things, whether they use the Internet or not. The important thing is (a) that they feel that they can talk to you, and (b) that you feel that you can talk to them.

    You can probably make kids feel like they can talk to you by listening to them, even when they want to talk about boring or ridiculous things. Probably telling them that "You can talk to me." doesn't really work. In fact, if you have to say that it probably isn't true. See also part (b).

    b: You have to be willing to talk to your kids honestly. This means being willing to talk about stuff that you would normally avoid talking about to anyone, because it disgusts you or scares you, or because you feel guilty about it or whatever. That's hard, but very important.

    Just to re-iterate: trying to prevent your kids from seeing and hearing objectionable or problematic things is a lose. First of all, it won't work, even if you throw all of the computers out of your house. But more importantly, trying to do that is a crutch to lean on instead of doing something that you need to do anyway: talk, and listen, to your children.



  • You could easily monitor what she's looking at. Going thru the logs, or by some other mechanism. There are plenty of solutions.

    But would you really want to ? You realize that the this is indifferent to monitoring (and recording) her phone calls, or placing a microphone on her and following her daily conversations with friends.

    You would effectively be spying on your kid.

    As a responsible parent (easy for me to say as I don't - to the best of my knowledge - have kids), of course you're interested in what goes on in her life. But don't cross the line.

    Having the computer in a "family room" is probably a good idea if you're seriously worried that she will use it for something that would pose a problem if she could use it in full privacy.

    Handle this, as you handle the other worries. What if she makes some poor friends that tries to get her into something you wouldn't approve of ? Do you seriously bug her and listen to her conversations ? No, I didn't think so either.

    Try something: have conversations. Eat together, the family dinner is a great time for talking about what goes on in the lives of the family members. Move the TV out of the kitchen and spend a little time together.

    Do you keep her from watching TV ? Or going to a theater ? There are few things you will find on the net that you won't see every day in TV. is no exception.

  • by Kid Zero ( 4866 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:12PM (#156405) Homepage Journal
    I'd let them know the computer stays in a public area, and I'm liable to watch everything they do.

    And then sit down and watch them.
  • That is, agree with what is considered ethical hacking in your own house since that's what you'll be doing. Many people here have stated the obvious: central location, proxy servers, web logs, firewalls and the like. If you put a broadband connection in someone's bedroom and let them have at it w/o restraint then all your agreements will probably go out the window. OTOH hand if you agree what is permissible behavior and demonstrate that you're willing to follow through then you're more than halfway there. The last thing I'd mention is that there is some threshold for tolerance as well. That is, you should allow for a passing grade not a binary pass/fail. There are always a few places that neither of you really know about and someone is going to stumble on accidently or with no particular intent - sometimes you have to give a pass. If not then you're doomed to failure because your standard will be impossible to meet. Unplug the net and give them restricted AOL instead.
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:11PM (#156408)
    whatever man. At that age, I really didn't want to spend time w/my parents. I wanted to hang out w/my friends or be by myself and do my own thing. My parents (my father especially) was always willing to spend time w/me and do things w/me, but I was the one that didn't want to do it.

    My parents checked through the HD everyday looking for jpg, gif, etc. I just made sure to rename all the files something that they wouldn't look for.

    Honestly, if they want to do something, they are going to do it. It's like smoking pot. If they want to get high and they don't want to get caught, they are going to be smart enough about it to make sure you never find out.

    I say let them surf the web w/o hindering them. Most kids aren't going to just "stumble" across offensive material and I have yet to have someone just hop on IM and message me dirty stuff (although I suggest having her check "male" as her sex -- you are less likely to have teenage boys messaging her)

    That's my worthless .02
  • by RalfM ( 10406 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @04:20PM (#156412) Homepage
    (Why on earth was the parent post mod'd funny?)

    Transparency of access AND monitoring is the only ethical and effective answer here. And those are the things you're really after:

    • effective transparent access
    • ethical transparent monitoring

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.

  • Exactly. Would you allow your 11-year-old daughter to speak to random adult strangers privately, for hours at a time?

    If not, why would you let her do so with a PC?

    As usual, no technical solution necessary for what is a social issue.

  • As a parent, I fought over the moral dilemma surrounding censorware. In the end the only choice really was to introduce the kids to the net one on one. This is why:

    As a child I did not have a lot of parental supervision, so my morals and ethics came from others in the community. For a lot of kids this does not work well, for me it turned out ok. All depends on who you start relating to early on in life.

    So basically what I am saying is that kids will get their core set of social norms and values from some source somewhere. They basically need these things to grow mentally, and at some low level know that and seek out what they need.

    Parents who do not try to provide these things are basically saying "go forth! find your way in the world, let me know what you found out!"

    Looking back over my life, it is easy to see how easily things could have been much different. (for the worse...)

    The problem with the Internet today is the body of knowledge and culture required to make sane judgements about the content. Getting facts is one thing, culture shock is another. Think about it a little. Some of the simplest humor on the internet is quite beyond the cultural experience of your typical 8-12 year old. Some well presented totally useless information can easily be taken as truth simply because it looks true!

    Spending time on the net with your kids is vital! No software is going to be able to give kids what they need to understand the net for what it is. They need to look at it through your experience after all who better to learn with than with someone that saw the whole thing happen and got to grow with it.

    So, as a parent you really have three basic choices.

    1. Censor the net and send the message to your childeren that you are ignoring the basic issues, and they can figure things out later at their expense when they are older. They just might hate you for this later when they do understand things better and wonder why you never helped them.

    2. Leave the net wide open and unattended and send the message that it is ok for them to look outside the family for their social norms. This one also has a lot to do with trust and could be ok for some kids, but probably not for a lot of them. Do you really trust your kids? Are their core values secure enough that you know they are going to ask you things and make good decisions? Do your kids have any sort of common sense? If you say no to any of these, better not let them use the net without help.

    3. Use the net with them. This one sends the message that you want them to explore, but don't want them getting hurt in some way. You the parent are in control and this is important!

    Your perspective as a parent on the net is very important espcially for this crowd! With all the companies fighting for your kids attention, what makes you think that they are going to learn what you want them to learn? Nothing! They are going to learn what others want them to learn, unless the parents are there to filter through the noise and explain what is going on.

    No software will ever do this.

    I want my kids to be able to make their place on the net and be comfortable with that; otherwise, their place will be chosen for them.
  • Any other parents who have found a good solution for this?

    The following solutions are good security practices, regardless of whether you have children to snoop on -- you can protect your internal MIS environment (yes, I know it's a household, but it still has MIS needs) from everything from script kiddies to ill-behaved Windows shares -- especially if you connect via broadband (Cable, DSL, etc.).

    Every machine in your house should be sitting on a private network, with a box functioning as a firewall sitting between them and the 'net. Block all web traffic (there's only a half-dozen or so ports) from masquerading directly, and force them through a caching proxy. Then, you can simply inspect the proxy caches/logs to handle this issue; your surfing performance in general will improve as a result of doing the caching regardless of your interest in the logs.

    You should also have your firewall log all the masqueraded connections -- again, this is a security measure regardless of whether you want to see if your kid is spending too much time playing EverQuest; it also will protect you from any trojaned apps that may be trying to "phone home" (you see a strange connection in the logs, and block the port).

    Good security practices aren't hard, but they do take work. And there's no reason to think that you shouldn't be as/more careful at home (with stuff that's actually yours) as/than you are around the office.


  • IMHO, there is NO ethical way to monitor
    another human being. Privacy in my world
    comes ahead of security or well-being.
    Would you read you child's mail, or
    diary? Of course not, that would be a
    gross violation of their privacy. Why then
    do you feel in the right to read their other
    communications with the world?
    Now, if they come to you asking for money to
    meet that nice guy they met in a chat room,
    THEN it is your responsibility to step in and
    explain right from wrong. And incidentally, aside
    from them actually wanting to meet someone from
    the net in person, there ain't much wrong they
    can do on the net (assuming they don't know your
    credit card number).
    I'm 26. I am grateful to my parents for
    not ever snooping on what I was doing when I was
    growing up.
  • I had the notion of having a proxy or some browser plugin that would give you a switch you could throw. In one mode it would only allow you access to a set list of sites, in the second mode it would allow you to surf freely. In free surf mode it records everywhere you go to be held in the list of "okay sites".

    This way parents can give the child very free reign when they can be around to answer questions and deal with issues that may arise. If the parent can't pay close attention to what's going on for a while they can throw it to the more restrictive mode. Initally the filter may be really constricting but over time it would be very usable. Or maybe you start with a whitelist to bootstrap the filter.


  • It's popular with me. My kids know that our firewall keeps logs of everything. They also know that the browsers often keep an embarassing amount of history of what's been visited. Between keeping the computers in a family area (vital!!) and them knowing it is a privilege, not a right to use them, we are getting along quite well.
  • Let them do what they want online; in time, the smarter kids will still survive, having not met online pedophiles; and the stronger kids will have survived their meetings with the pedophiles. Natural selection will assure that in the future only quality kids will exist, since the weaker ones will die off know.
    Oh wait, ETHICALLY monitoring them?
    Nevermind ;)
  • Reminds me of a story - (Not so OT.)
    When Ghandi was alive, a mother came to see him, child in tow.
    "Please tell my child not to eat sugar" the woman said.
    Ghandi told the woman to come back in two weeks. Two weeks later, the woman brought her child again. Ghandi looks at the kid and says: "Don't eat sugar."
    The woman is stunned. "That's it? I had to go for two weeks just for that?"
    "You see," says Ghandi, "Two weeks ago, *I* ate sugar."
    Sure, it's just a story and the attribution is probably wrong, but I think it says something worth considering.
    I think that kids in general would be more effective at monitoring their parents' surfing habits than the opposite. Are you prepared to have your kids see everything that *you* look at on the web?
    And all this talk about having your kids talk openly about what they look at on the web; Are you prepared to talk openly with them about every site or newsgroup you browse? If not, the kid will know that you are being one-sided and insincere. (Kids can *smell* insincerity, just as well as you can...)
    IANAP -


    MMDC.NET []
  • It seems to me that phrases like "protecting our children" or "shielding them" are misleading.

    One thing children are constantly doing is learning. When they are at school, they are (hopefully) learning. When they are playing in the park, they are learning. When they are with their friends, they are learning. And when they are browsing the Internet, they are learning. What do you, as parents, want them to learn? It is the duty of the parents to guide them in their education.

    To not allow children to view certain objectionable sites (or read objectionable magazines, or watch objectionable TV) is a good way to help them to not be distracted learning garbage instead of something valuable.
  • It is a parent's responsibility to protect their kids from potentially harmful material and influences. If your children have their own computers, these computers should have NO 'net access at all.

    Forget censorware, proxies, etc; software solutions are unreliable. Have one central, easily monitored family computer with 'net access, and only let them use it when you can sit there with them to monitor, guide, and teach.
  • Ethical monitoring?! What a classic newspeak oxymoron. "Trust. Or do not trust.", saith Yoda."There is no *ethical monitoring*!"

  • Good reply. Here on /. and the 'net in general, Americans (USians. Can't say I've noticed with Canadians) we get a lot of shit when it comes to not recognizing other cultural norms and standards. Yet when it is turned the other way, it's all right for Europeans, Africans, Asians, etc. to slag on us because we are different.

    Same thing I experienced in college with women's (or in some cases wymyn's) groups, African American groups, Asian American groups, etc. It was okay to slag the white protestant male for his barbaric, stereotypical views, but Gaya forbid it worked the other way around.

    IOW, all American, white, Protestant males were/are racist, elitist, misogynist scum. But everyone in our group is an individual.

    As to the original question: you are the warden, not the child's best friend. I like playing with my son, but that's not the duty I undertook (I think that was five minutes of rollicking good fun;)

    FWIW, did anyone consider that asking how to monitor computer use in June, as school is letting out a bit stupid? What kind of kids are you raising who would rather veg in front of the TV/computer than go outside and go swimming, ride bikes, etc, etc, etc.?

  • While this is one form of 'Security through Obscurity' that I would support as a parent, I feel that in general, encouraging anonymity while at the same time warning against it smells of hypocracy. And I'm just a 29 yr old future will pick up on it right away.

    It's unfortunate that you have to protect your identity online, but what good is a global community of total strangers?

  • by spudnic ( 32107 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @06:35PM (#156455)
    "although I suggest having her check "male" as her sex -- you are less likely to have teenage boys messaging her"

    It's not the teenage boys that you have to worry about, it's the 40 year old guys who say they are teenage boys.

    I'm not against (legal) porn at all. I don't think that if a kid runs across porn on the Internet that it will somehow scar them for life. I also don't think that viewing porn will turn them into some sex-crazed pervert.

    I believe those that are scarred or turned into perverts where either predisposed to this in the first place and that if it weren't the Internet it would be some other stimuli that triggered it, or come from an environment so violent and horrible that they where doomed from the start. The same thing holds true with video games not turning kids into homicidal axe wielding maniacs.

    Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that such online activities should be encouraged, in fact they should be strictly forbidden.

    However, I see the biggest threat on the Internet is chat rooms and REAL people. The problem there is that it would be very hard to prevent the kids from finding somewhere to chat. With the proliferation of IRC, web based chat, java based chat, not to mention all of the proprietary formats out there, it is almost impossible to either filter or quickly monitor their activities via a log of some sort.

    Supervision is the only true answer, and in the real world in a lot of cases this just isn't an option. Unfortunate but true.

    The bottom line is that your 11 year old daughter is MUCH safer doing anything she wants on the Internet than going to a mall or the movies by herself or even with friends.

    If kids want porn, they'll get it, Internet or not. Trust me, I know! ;)
  • there is no evidence that porn is harmful or that censorship is helpful.

    Well, there is at least this much harm: as a parent, I want to be in charge of teaching my children what sex is all about, not some sleazeball porn auteur. Once the kids are adults, they're welcome to all the on-line porn they want.

    I don't get bent out of shape over porn, because in the grand scheme of things it is only a tiny part of the problem, hardly worth worrying at all when compared to its big brothers: popular entertainment and advertising.

    Before you write me off as a prude, it is not nudity or sex acts that I object to, its the context in which they are displayed. Entertainment depicts a world in which sex has no consequences or which conflates violence and sex -- OK as fantasy fare for adults who know better, but lousy sex-ed. Advertising is particularly pernicious: in order to sell they try to create discontent, and then they plant the idea that there are simple solutions to insecurity that can be bought.

    I'm not worried that my kids will grow up worldly -- that would be a good thing. It's a false sophistication based on unrealistic or tainted sources.

    We have a simple rule in my house: the children's media consumption is not private. As parents we feel sit in on it and engage the children in discussion about what they see or read. We take particular care to inculcate cynicism about commercials, although it's an uphill battle -- the advertisers have got it down to a science.

    The same rules applies to Internet use as to any other media.

  • by SMN ( 33356 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @07:50PM (#156459)
    Well, it's not quite proof -- but I should point out that many prominent feminists were actually pro-porn. Not just because they wanted equality, and equality requires free expression, but because they did not believe that (most) porn was exploitative or harmful to women. Check out [] for more on this. It's written by a strong feminist and cites the views of many prominent feminists.

    If I had to pick someone who would be an authority figure on whether women are hurt or offended by porn, who would it be? Why, a prominent leader in the Women's Civil Rights movement, of course. How about Betty Friedan, author of The Feminist Mystique and co-founder of the National Organization for Women? [] Surely nobody can take an AP American History course in high school and not recognize the name; we studied her pretty prominently in my course. And she was not only not against pornography, she actually supported it.

    These women are only devalued if they allow themselves to be. In the past, they were certainly undervalued, but that's why the Women's Suffrage and Women's Liberation movements came about. Were the situation as severe as people claim, this wouldn't be a few women who claim to be feminists fighting against porn -- it would be a genuine uprising, led by women's leaders. But it's not. Porn does not make women worthless.

  • by SMN ( 33356 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:22PM (#156460)
    I haven't been keeping tabs on the Slashdot "departments" recently, but this one --" from the j-s-mill-never-had-to-worry-about-this dept" -- caught my eye.

    For the unaware, Cliff was refering to John Stuart Mill, an 18th-century British philosopher who wrote of "the tyranny of the masses," or "the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling." Mill was noting that logic and reason were being subverted by emotional arguments that appealed to the masses. It's a elitist perspective, but IMHO it's a very valid observation.

    This is exactly what's happening here -- as the Salon piece very elegantly expresses, there is no evidence that porn is harmful or that censorship is helpful. In fact, it seems to me only reasonable to think the opposite. I may be biased -- but I'm a 17-year-old who's seen plenty of porn (please don't take that the wrong way), but I'm not some psychotic, violent madman or a pedophiliac. In fact, I'm first in my high school class (finishing my Junior year within the week), I'm looking at top-teir colleges, and I spent my Tuesday night last week being a productive member of my community by lobbying against an issue before the local township council (I won't get into the details of that, but as long as I'm bragging, I think I'll note that I've also finally hit the karma cap =). To see people claim that I should have all kinds of mental problems is, to be, downright offensive. This categorization is wrong, but the majority of people believe it, and that is reflected by our society.

    But I think that a lot of the Slashdot crowd sees the argument put forth in the Salon article -- that censorship does not protect children, but instead leaves them unable to cope with the realities of the outside world. (There's a very enlightened judge who ruled recently that children "cannot be raised in a bubble" -- see the ruling [] for more.) That's why I'm such a fan of peacefire's advocacy.

    But I digress. The point is, Mill's quote is the perfect embodiment of the phenomenon we're seeing here -- that is, the popular view that children must be "protected." Unfortunately, as long as the masses remain uneducated, we're fighting a losing battle. I don't know what can be done to counteract this, but I sure it hope somebody else can come up with something, and soon -- before people like me are no longer able to access these things, and are no longer able to realize this common fallacy.

    Once again, Kudos to Cliff for showing once again that occasionally the slashdot editors do make very insightful commentaries in and of themselves (especially Jamie, who's written many great anti-censorship articles). Hopefully we've enlightened another person or two today.

  • He can find the best pR0n [] faster than I can.
  • by revscat ( 35618 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:41PM (#156462) Journal

    as a parent of two, let me fill you in on a little secret: the only way you're going to know what your kids are up to is to spend time with them. in other words, get off your lazy ass and spend time with them. especially if you only have her 2 days a week. sheesh.

    Ah yes, the easy route: flaming. How about instead of just shooting from the hip you come up with something workable? This guy is obviously concerned about his kid, and the only suggetion you can give is "spend more time with them"? Christ, man, that's a given considering the tone of the orginal message.

    Oh yeah, and I'm a parent.

    Here's my suggestion to the original question: Don't worry about censorware. Just occasionally scan her history, cache, etc., & talk to her in a non-confrontational way about anything you that gives you pause. Censorware usually just pisses kids off and makes them become much better with circumvention than they otherwise would have been.

    - Rev.
  • and while your opinions won't be absolutely followed all the time like it was when she was 5

    Heh. In my dreams. I'd be speechless if my 3 year old listened to my opinion :-)

  • by Hobbex ( 41473 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:43PM (#156464)

    Instead of trying to shield the kids from real life, you should take out two birds with one stone and teach them something about it in the process.

    If I ever have kids, I'm going to set up a packet snooping / TA system to figure out exactly what they are doing online, and teach them about the lack of privacy on the Internet from the begining. And when they are smart enough to circumvent my spying with encryption, anonymizers, and mixnets, then they have proved they are smart enough to handle whatever they may see...

    && oskar
  • What's most interesting about this discussion is that it shows that people are now turning to perfect strangers in how to parent, that most intimate of activities. I don't know if this is a good or bad thing. The action itself isn't harmful, but it does indicate that traditional channels of support for parents are disappearing.
    I asked my grandparents for their learned, sage advice on this situation. They looked at me odd and asked "is this one of those computer things you do?"

    So I went to my parents. They're cheating a bit. My kid sister is only 4 years older than my own daughter, so they're forced to deal with some of the same current issues. Their solution? "AOL Parent Controls".

    There are some areas where traditional support models just don't work. Seeking advice of one's peers is certainly appropriate here.

  • That I was born when I was born, and had my computer when I did...

    I mean, my parents didn't know anything about it. My dad tried to learn programming with me - but I eventually outpaced him in a few weeks (I do remember playing video games with him - oh the days of going one on one with pops)...

    Anyhow, when I was 13 I got my first modem, and started making connections with other people - full on strangers, most of them adults! Also connections with other machines as well...

    As I grew older, I learned to download various images - which were - ahem - not exactly the cleanest of material. I remember gaining access to various hacker and bomb making texts, and reading them - even to the point of taking them with me to school to read over more. I remember coding as soon as I got home from school, and doing so until I fell asleep at night...

    On the weekend, more time on the computer. My parents were nearly oblivious, though they encouraged me to go outside more, they never physically barred me access to my machine, unless I got bad grades (talk about withdrawal!). If I wasn't on the computer, I was reading, or doing something equally "geeky".

    Oh, I almost forgot - the people and machines? BBS's... Images - Mac PICT files and Atari ST images, among others... Programming in BASIC, playin' Asteroids and Missle Command on my Atari 2600 with dad... Hacker and Bomb texts courtesy of MetalShop BBS (among others)... My computer - a TRS-80 Color Computer 2 with 64K and a 300 baud modem - ah, the 80's...

    The question in my mind is - where would I be today if my parents were as worried about me then (about "online" activity) as parents are worried today. I am not saying it is the same, but I wonder how this is affecting kids...

    Worldcom [] - Generation Duh!
  • $file /home/mykid/* | grep jpeg


    JPEG image data, JFIF standard 1.01, aspect ratio, 1 x 1, "Check out the tits on her!!!!"


    Like another poster said, when my kid can circumvent my surveilence then he is probably ready to handle what he finds.
  • by jazman_777 ( 44742 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @07:31PM (#156471) Homepage
    No, the original poster has hit the nail square on the head. Keeping a record of where the child surfed is far better than simply signing up with some CyberPatrol. First of all you get to decide what is appropriate or not for your own children (instead of relying on someone else). Besides, squid at leats gives the child the benefit of the doubt. It doesn't block web sites (unless you tell it to) it merely logs where you have been without blocking off potentially useful parts of the web. It allows you and your child to decide together what is appropriate and what is not.

    And there also is squidblock [] for those who want a canned set of "bad" sites to block right off the bat. They build the list from user input. And if you want to, there are any number of proxy log reporting tools out there, too, to generate reports of sites visited.

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:42PM (#156476)
    > monitoring harbors resentment
    > i bet you don't like being monitored by feds
    > guess who the equivalent is to her

    Given that by the time she's 18, the feds will be monitoring everything she does anyways, perhaps it's a good idea to get her used to the idea of Big Brother Watching Her now, before she has to. Better she learn how to "act normal" in front of the folks than in front of the Fed.

    (And on the flip side - if she's bound and determined to work her way around the logger, and finds an effective way to do so... more power to her.)

    My choice of logging tool: Ethernet sniffer, hooked up to OpenBSD box. OpenBSD box is hooked up to an old dot-matrix printer. Every 15 minutes, a URL is printed in hardcopy, at random. The complete log is stored on the hard drive. The sniffer also logs GROUP and ARTICLE commands on port 119, SMTP headers, etc. but to save on diskspace, drops inbound data on the floor. Basically, your own private Carnivore.

    ...and the logfile is encrypted with Dad's public key. Dad doesn't have to read the log entries to know if the OpenBSD box has been compromised and the logs have been tampered with. All Dad has to do is fail to be able to decrypt the logs with his private key.

  • If they want access to a site with adult content, then you have your chance to discuss it and you can approve it if you feel they're ready for it.

    Speaking as a former teenager, you're dreaming. If you wait for your kids to come to you with questions about sex you'll be waiting a looooong time. Their friends and peers will tell them way before you get a chance to. And they'll be fed false information - unless they're lucky enough to be friends with Sakura, whose parents are wise enough to have taught her the truth about sex at an early age.
    I learned about sex from my friend's stepdad's pr0n video collection. My folks never talked to me about that stuff...oh except when I started my period, my mom talked to me about cramps. :-/

    "Smear'd with gumms of glutenous heat, I touch..." - Comus, John Milton
  • >So, how is that different from monitoring your kids internet usage?

    the bible has its pages numbered, the internet doesn't. I suppose you could rip all the bad pages out of the bible. Could be a fun experiment to annoy fundamentalist &lt insert favourite religious followers &gt , bet THEY won't like being censored..

  • by pnatural ( 59329 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:04PM (#156480)
    you said only an awareness of what she surfs.

    as a parent of two, let me fill you in on a little secret: the only way you're going to know what your kids are up to is to spend time with them. in other words, get off your lazy ass and spend time with them. especially if you only have her 2 days a week. sheesh.
  • >Way back a while ago (...), ancient prosperous
    >cultures' peoples got married at age 13 and had

    and they lived all the way into their 30's too!

  • My step-daughter's now 16, and a bit more "worldly" than I'd like to admit. But she's had net access for the last 5 years, pretty much freely, and virtually unfettered access for the last 3.5 years.

    I do networking for a living. I've periodically dropped a sniffer on her stream and captured content to see what's going on. My wife and I have discreetly used the garnered info, when we've felt we had to, to forestall some potentially hairy problems.

    I *don't* want to admit that she's going to have sex as a teenager. But, you know, overall she's a pretty sharp kid, and we do NOT monitor her activity on the Web tightly. We have not had the need to do so for some time: her judgement and her decisions to come to me with 'Net-related questions and problems have indicated she is pretty safe on the Web all by herself.

    We had the "It's a mean Net out there" talk back when she was first starting, and again about 18 months ago. She knows she can always come to me with stuff regarding the Net and the Web. And she has, even coming for advice when a friend of hers started having someone spoof her mail to friends in a particularly offensive way ... and we nailed him, too.

    I tend to agree: Trust and time are the keys. And while I've monitored, I've also trusted... Consider the monitoring a form of verification, and realize that we take our role in shaping her life pretty seriously.


  • "The notion that words and images and ideas can cause harm to young minds has become such an article of faith that it's hard not to feel a sense of futility when you point out that there is not a shred, not an iota, not an atom of proof that exposure to images or descriptions of sex and violence does children any harm..."

    I like this paragraph from Salon's article so much I'm going to repeat it. I'd like you all to read it again, too...
    "The notion that words and images and ideas can cause harm to young minds has become such an article of faith that it's hard not to feel a sense of futility when you point out that there is not a shred, not an iota, not an atom of proof that exposure to images or descriptions of sex and violence does children any harm..."

    Listen, I know the libertarian spirit is at the heart of so much that is dear to the OpenSource community in general and the Slashdot set in particular. But come on. This is an intellectual community as well as a zealously independent one. Without digressing into discussions about censorships, without exploding into self-righteous rage about Columbine, videogames, Marilyn Manson, and the whole bloody first amendment, does anyone here accept the statement above as being absolutely, inarguably honest and true?

    The article is written by a FILM CRITIC, employed by one of the most left-leaning publications currently in existence on the Internet.

    People interested in studies that correlate attitudes towards sex and violence to exposure will find that there are countless studies on the subject ("oh, here is one of them! []), written by social scientists, media theorists, and other sorts who've a little more going for them than the sheer force of their own bias. I have yet to see a credible study that concludes as Mr. Taylor concludes.

    That Slashdot would reference the Salon article in the laudatory manner that it does is an embarrassment.

    For the record kids (and those of you who are intellectually immature), the problem isn't simply one of children seeing sex & violence on television. The problem is the context in which the behaviors they witness are portrayed. The problem is exacerbated by parents who set their children down in front of the tube for hours on end and relinquish their own parental responsibility to love their children, teach their children, discipline their children and foster their children's intellectual development.

    You want a study, Mr. Taylor, from someone other than a religious whacko? Get your ass to Amazon, pick up a copy of Neil Postman's "The End of Childhood". [] See what an agnostic social theorist, one of the greatest cultural critics alive, has to say about the matter. You'll learn, among other things, that childhood as we all know it didn't exist 300 years ago, it is a social construct, created in America, as a by-product of our education system. Our country committed itself to the education of children for the express purpose of producing an intellectually sophisticated citizenry. The schooling system that was created was in part created to allow for a "progressive revelation", exposing children to information which built upon an increasingly complex set of rules (which assumed a prior set of rules had already been taught). As much as anything, information restriction served to protect much of the social construct of childhood. They were protected from, yes PROTECTED FROM information. It was revealed to them in stages such that they were prepared to receive it. All the while, they received not only information but knowledge (from parents and authorities) and also wisdom. As terrifying as it sounds, they were taught to distinguish right from wrong. STOP THE PRESSES! HOW BLOODY PURITANICAL! LITERALLY! TAUGHT RIGHT FROM WRONG! BUT WHO IS TO DETERMINE WHAT IS RIGHT AND WHAT IS WRONG! WHY, NO ONE CAN DO THAT!

    Actually, some one can (and should) do that. Parents are supposed to do that. And if parents did a better job of it these days, we wouldn't be in the societal mess we're in.

    I'm not here to advocate censorship. If anyone starts babbling about that, I pity you. I'm advocating parental responsibility. Teach your children how to contextualize what they see. Teach them how to process the information they are exposed to. If you abdicate the education of your children to the media, for pete's sake, DON'T COMPLAIN WHEN YOUR KID WATCHES JACKASS AND SETS HIMSELF ON FIRE. And please, teach them how to reject laughably biased nonsense like the paragraph above, so they don't end up thinking its genius and including it in SLASHDOT post as if God himself had etched it in the stone on Mt. Sinai.


    What is also truly sad, what is also truly pitiable, is to see the injustice that our own education system perpetuates through continually lowered standards and so-called progressive learning techniques. Does the fact that our education system is pumping out illiterate boneheads by the thousands, teaching them that there aren't really right-or-wrong-answers to questions ("what is important is how-you-feel!") bother anyone? That self-declared film critics can write paragraphs like the one above, and be LAUDED by others instead of derided? Well, if these things don't bother you now, wait until your seventy, and you're sitting there asking yourself how come your grandchildren are drooling idiots who can't wipe their own arses. See if you're laughing when you find it out it was because they didn't get a Ph.D in Anal Hygienics, and no-one else in the country knows how to do it anymore.
  • almost 11 is just a child. NOT A SMALL ADULT. Some people get the two confused.

    You wont need to moniter her if you have both a strong relationship and rules. If the relationship is not there forget the rules, the relationship MUST be there first.

    Sensorware is only there to keep honest people honest. I use squid/squidguard with a php interface for banned sites. My son can add a site or remove a site from the blacklist. But he knows that I will be emailed a copy of the transaction.

  • by technos ( 73414 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:05PM (#156495) Homepage Journal
    How exactly would you explain to your eleven year old daughter? I don't have kids, but the thought of having to try and explain that phenomena to another *adult* scares me.
  • by rkent ( 73434 ) <rkent&post,harvard,edu> on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:26PM (#156496)
    Put the family computer in a family room.

    Okay, but that doesn't solve everything. Granted, I grew up with BBS's instead of the big bad internet, but file swapping was not unheard of.

    The computer was (wisely) kept in the family dining room, and not my bedroom or other "private" place. But I'm sure that... eh... had I wanted to swap some pr0n, I probably could've waited until after my parents went to bed and done all the bad stuff I wanted. Hypothetically, I mean.

    So, um, what was that thing about squid again?


  • My step-daughter is almost 11 and, though she's only with her mother and me every other weekend By my standards this would qualify as a total wreck of a family, and accessibility of the Internet would be the least problem for the daughter. Then again, I am not American. What an interesting, ignorant thing to say, you Non-American, you. Being a Canadian and the son of divorced parents, I know that divorces are quite common in North America. When a couple gets divorced (and this has been going on for quite a while) usually one parent gets custody of the kids and the other parent gets visitation rights. All of that is decided in family court. It sounds to me as though the guy asking the /. question gets to see his step-daughter every two weeks (which is also typical). There is also joint custody where the child bounces back and forth, spending equal time with both parents - which I can imagine is probably not very good for the child. So now is the time to take your Non-American foot out of your Non-American mouth and WAKE UP. Divorces are bound to be more common in the future wherever you are too!
  • I can't disagree strongly enough. Kids should be able to EARN some privacy by displaying responsible behavior, but what they are ENTITLED to is adult supervision.

    A responsible sixteen year old should have a fair bit of privacy. The question was about an eleven year old, who should have virtually none. (outside the obvious, showering, dressing, etc.)

    Don't forget we are talking about the Internet here. The Internet at its best is a useful research tool, a place to build communities, and a powerful way for people to understand each other better. At its worse, it is a red-light district minus cops and a reasonable ability to guess how old patrons are.

    Bottom line, what kids ARE entitled to is parents to supervise them, and don't give them enough freedom to make major mistakes until they are old enough to handle that freedom.

    When a thirteen year old becomes pregnant it is the parent who has failed. Unfortunately it is the child who lives with the consequences. It is also the child who is MOST in need of being molded who is now treated as an adult, because she has a child of her own.

    What's ethical about that?


  • You know, it takes 15 seconds to make a girl pregnant.

    Hey, speak for yourself on that one! ;-)

    [I]f a thirteen year old becomes pregnant it is the parent who has failed. But in my opinion, it is more likely that the parent has failed to grant privacy when s/he should have.

    Hmm, I think there is a phenomenon that you are describing here that you don't really understand. It is when a child is too SHELTERED that this happens, not too supervised.

    It is VERY important that a child be exposed to things as he grows up. Keeping a child in a bubble until 18 then letting him loose on the world is just as unfair as letting him loose on the world at seven. You see, it is the SAME problem, he doesn't have the EXPERIENCE to make good decisions.

    Where we seem to disagree is that I think that it is parents' job to see to it that this experience happens in a controlled way, stepping in before something that isn't easily undone happens.

    You seem to think that kids will just know how to do the right thing if you don't bug them too much. I think you are dead wrong.


  • I hate to chime in so late but . . .

    I take issue with the premise of the question.

    It is your ethical duty TO monitor your kids. That is what parents are there to do, monitor, guide, and mold their children. If you AREN'T monitoring them your are failing them.

    Now, it is obviously good to build trust with your kids, but it is better for your kids to think your too nosy than to end up dead in a ditch.

    I don't know why, but people seem to think that 1. kids are small adults and 2. that parents are supposed to be a built in best friend.

    Your kids should respect you. If you treat them like miniature adults that are your best buddy they won't. And you are setting them up for problems.

    Today's unsupervised eleven year old is tomorrow's "out of control teen" on daytime TV.


  • by Matt_Bennett ( 79107 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:27PM (#156504) Homepage Journal
    Monitor all the traffic with a proxy server- including your own surfing, and go over the logs together. The best way you can teach is to set a good example.

    Many kids will accidentally go to someplace like and get the suprise of their life- as long as they understand that is something they should not be looking at- that should be fine, lesson learned, and they know not to go there again. Eventually the kid will see something you find morally troubling- and so will you. Take the time to explain what you think is wrong about things like that. The child needs to know why she shouldn't be browsing something, more than just "bad place- stay away!"
  • Use a squid proxy or some toher mean to log the address and title of only sites that contain certain keywords. Then a quick scan of the logfiles at your leisure can see if she's been abusing her privlidges, without maintaining a privacy-endagering log of every site she visits.
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:19PM (#156512) Homepage Journal
    "What, that? That's just some asshole..."
  • I'm a 21 year old male that has in the past seen a lot of porn and I would have to disagree with your idea that porn is not harmful. I first started looking at porn when I was ~17. My views of women started changing in an unhealthy way. I started looking at women as sex ojects instead of human beings with emotions just like us (well probably more fragile emotions in some ways). Most women don't want this in a man but might settle on it because men (actually anyone) with morals are becoming much harder to find nowadays. I luckily realized that my view was changing along with the way I treated women but I had a very hard time stopping my viewing of porn. What I finally had to do is install a program called WeBlocker [] with a password that I don't know. I'm sure the same kind of thing can happen to women and thus it is better to block porn before it can do any harm. I do also suggest though that the parent should explain why porn (or any other site deemed harmful) is not appropriate.
  • Simple just put a entery in you hosts file or DNS server ,if you run one, that points you to google or some where else. Or you you run a proxy server setup a redirector. Here is web site with directions on how to set it up
  • Who moderated this as insightful??? Can I meta-moderate this as "Funny" or is this guy seriously thinking it's a good idea to apply this "Darwinian Monitoring Model".
  • Yes, but it's sad that I can't moderate this moderator as "Funny"! We need to change meta-moderation...
  • by quakeaddict ( 94195 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:16PM (#156522)
    To say that a child at the age of 11 has a right to view everything on the internet as a statement against censorship is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    I mean there are way worse things to worry about than whether or not you are censoring stuff off of the internet. I mean...why not just allow your daughter to go to an X-rated movie at the age of 11...I mean if you didn't allow it you would be censoring her right? Right?!

  • i.e. don't make the net her babysitter. If she's going to surf the net, surf it with her.
  • by kreyg ( 103130 ) <<kreyg> <at> <>> on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @05:17PM (#156537) Homepage
    We in the industry have this thing we like to call "a chair." When two are placed side by side in front of a computer, you generally have all the hardware you need to monitor computer usage.
  • First things first -- I ran a BBS starting at the age of twelve. It had many, many thousands of adult pictures on it. I had my first 'net access when I was thirteen; this was before the web, but there was still plenty of pr0n to be found.

    Now, I saw a whole bunch of stuff that probably should have warped my fragile little mind, and I was way too young for most of it. But despite that I've developed into a reasonably normal adult; I'm happily married, I have a healthy attitude towards women and sex -- I'm unscarred by the early porn exposure.

    I've thought about this issue, of what to do when I have kids and need to worry about this sort of thing. I'm leaning towards the side of (once they reach twelve or so) giving them unrestricted net access and trusting them to be every bit as immature as I was, but learn a lot about life in the process.

    Sounds weird, I know -- allowing my kids to be exposed to the evils of the net!! Well, everybody I know who didn't see pr0n on the net saw their older sibling's porno tapes (or whatever) at aoubt the same age I was, and I'm not convinced that shielding them from pornography really protects them in any way.

    The basic question I asked myself is: how many people do I know that weren't exposed to pr0n and other evils at a young age? Well, nobody that I've asked. I first saw hardcore porn at about the age of ten, my wife was eleven or twelve, and all of my friends were similarly young.

    And of those people, how many turned out the worse for it? Tough to tell, I know, because we all saw it, but I certainly don't feel screwed up by the experience. Maybe it's just part of growing up.

    I know, I know, there are pedophiles and all sorts of other nasties out there -- true enough, but they're not all on the net. Casual conversation with a child will easily reveal any suspicious online "friendships", and I'm not convinced they're in any more danger online than off.

    I'm certainly not saying what you should or should not do with your stepdaughter, but give some serious thought to how many people you know who had unfiltered net access at that age who grew up the worse for it.
  • Giving a child "freedom" to harm themselves isn't enlightened behaviour, but is itself childish.

    Becoming a responsible person means that you actively influence others in a positive direction; those you are responsible for.

    Shirking that responsibility doesn't mean that they weren't influenced, it just means that something else influenced them.

    It is all about time. There is only so much time in the day. What you choose (or what is chosen) to become part of your day influences you in time. If you spend enough time practicing piano, you eventually become excellent. If you spend enough time reading great books, you eventually become well read. Most of us spent a great deal of our youth to attain some degree of fluency with programming or system administration. To allow pornography to be part of a child's day is depriving them of the good things that would instead nurture and form their minds.

    If you think that web-pornography is an essential part of an 11 year old's daily information intake, then state that plainly. It is at least a tangible position, however equivalent it is to allowing anything they can get their hands on to be "fair game" for injesting.

    If an 11 year old mind already has a subtle enough pallete to distinguish worthy and unworthy ideas, images and friends, then they should be responsible for the formation of some /.'ers who can't claim the same.

    Most need their parents, and (unfortunately) most parents subscribe to some degree of hands-off-ology, as if someone else won't gladly chime in the minute you fall silent.

    To the people who claim that you will stifle your child or come across as overbearing by being so active a parent, that depends on what you give and show to them. Good things don't stifle, they enrich. I whole heartedly agree that space-fillers meant to replace more lurid (and usually more interesting) information will drive a kid crazy. This includes Christian "Rock", most Disney movies, etc. Adolescents generally will not be harmed by violent images (not gore, though), sexual images (not porn, though), rough language (not gratuitous, though).

    In short, art and not shit. Those that can't tell the difference have already demonstrated that they lack qualifications to be responsible for another's (inevitable) formation.

  • oh, sure. use a scare tactic. that's definately NOT the approach I would use.

    instead, since you raise your children with good morals and ethics (right?), show your children a site that is completely wrong/unjust/evil/vile/etc. teach them why. educate them on why certain things are not right.

    I work under the philosophy that children shouldn't be shielded from these atrocities (though I'm not saying the opposite). they should be taught about them and why they're wrong so that they can _voluntarily_ choose not to witness or seek these things.

    parents CAN'T always be there to shield their childrens' eyes. at some point, children will bear witness to something disgusting, to vile materials of some nature. why not coach them and make sure that they handle the situation appropriately, with or without a parent to hold their hands?

    a society like our own (representative democracy) cannot function unless everybody is educated and active in politics and community.

  • I hereby waive my next set of moderation points to give to Jamie for his intelligent checklists. It's honestly a pity that you can't moderate the articles themselves, because this bit was great.

    Sorry for the OT stuff folks, but we rag on the editors/writers so much when they suck that they deserve to know when they're doing a good job.

  • system is pumping out illiterate boneheads by the thousands, teaching them that there aren't really right-or-wrong-answers to questions ("what is important is how-you-feel!") bother anyone? That self-declared film critics can write paragraphs like the one above, and be LAUDED by others instead of derided? Well, if these things don't bother you

    Point One: I'm not entirely bothered by the progressive learning techniques, because in all the educational systems I've been exposed too the top-level of learning (Honors/Gifted level classes in 9'th and 10'th grades, AP in 11'th and 12'th) performs remarkably competently as a mass-educator. Those in lower rungs may be lead to beleive that they're competent when they're not, but it's not such a big deal - the world will teach them that within a year or two of HS graduation.

    Point Two:
    a) While your point about the writer being a film critic is somewhat valid as a questioning of his credintals, he is not making any new claim in and of itself - he is merely questioning the validity of studies published to date on the matter, and you don't need a PhD. in psychology to do that. Again, he's not pushing his own 'study.'
    b) I carefully read your tirade twice, and I notice nothing that actually stands in contradiction to what he said (unless, I realize, you are operating with the premise that pornography is inherently evil. But that should be stated outright.). The film critic is not advocating unfettered access, especially in the quote you gave, he is questioning the assumption that pornography is inherently harmful. Any information presented to a child when he/she is unprepared to deal with it, or as you put it "contextualize what they see," stands a chance of harming him/her emotionally.

    I quote from the article "Just because I think extreme protectionism is misguided doesn't mean that I think children should be exposed to anything and everything. Parents have to make those decisions for their own kids."

    This man is arguing that it is not doing a child a favor to protect him/her completely from "inappropriate" material until the day he/she is 18 -- he argues that, if anything, the protectionism is doing him/her a disservice by both discouraging open discussion and decreasing preparation for the uncensored wonder of adult life. He says nothing about parental teachings of value (so long as they're not contradictory). He says nothing about parental guidance in general. And he is certainly not promoting or enocouraging the media as the primary source of values.

    Your tirade was informed and insightful, but unfortunately you unleashed it upon someone who apparantly doesn't disagree with you.

  • I am not saying it is an empty gesture, what I am saying is that it is a gross simplification in that he decided that their was a direct correlation between his pornography viewing and his views of women. I would suspect that the views are real, his personal distaste at the views is genuine, but it is a complex mental process and the pornography could simply have been raising his personal struggle to the fore while now in its absence the opinions fester inside him constantly reinforced by the media. Perhaps he addressed the issue. I was not making a personal attack or even comment but making a general statement that we are bomarded by insulting imagery constantly and to target pornography as a worse offender is wrong (to take an example, when you watch a woman suck a cock just pulled out of her ass they are not trying to pretend that every women should aspire to this). I personally find the instituitional discrimination of women far more degrading than porn. Porn is nearly honest.

    I can accept my post was very possibly flamebait, but for all the best reasons, not to attack an individual but to weaken his argument against pronography as a denegrator of women. If women had a equitable position in the rest of the world I am quite sure we would all see far more porn involving the denegration of men.

  • by bfree ( 113420 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @09:43PM (#156549)
    I was debating an argument and the language I used probably did make it a bit rough. I love /. as a free forum of debate and apologise is I offended the original poster, but I know him not and was addressing his argument not his person. I just do not think the simplistic situations you both describe are realistic. I believe the equations are far too complex. Perhaps if we take some video cameras, players and TVs to a remote region of the planet with no media and force the natives to watch lots of porn under controlled settings we might be able to evaluate the influence of pornography in our treatment of women. But the true potential harm of pronography is simply a reflection of the degegration propegated by far more areas of society than the unfashionable porn industry.

    As the MPAA says Sex and Violence are OK as long as you don't say any naughty words.

  • by bfree ( 113420 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @05:07PM (#156550)
    OK, one simple question, have you also blocked all access to MPAA movies, RIAA music videos, any commercial television station, all magazines and newspapers? If not then you are being brainwashed every day into believing that women are sex objects despite your marvelous blocking software. Face facts you obviously did not receive the rounded, sanity based eduscation on life from your parents that most people here see as the only way of dealing with this issue.
  • As a parent of an almost 11 year old, I also read The Morality Police, and while it did say some things I agreed with, the author had some very wierd views of the law.

    Specifically, the MPAA ratings system is not an "unconstitutional restriction of free speech", it is free speech - in the form of an economically enforced blacklist. X-rated theaters aren't illegal, it's just that Walt Disney and all other MPAA members won't license their films to be shown at one. This is nearly identical to the approach of anti-spam lists, including the RTBL.

    So far as raising your daughter is concerned, repeat after me: the net is no different than any other medium.

    You need to stay involved in your daughters life no matter what her interests are, and while your opinions won't be absolutely followed all the time like it was when she was 5, they are still the extremely important. Try not to be judgemental, but also be clear to point out the consequences that can occur from bad choices on her part.

    Despite media hype about the internet, the #1 killer of teenagers - that just about dwarfs all others - is drunk driving. Telling her not to get in a car with a drunk boy is more likely to keep her out of harms way than any other advice I could give you.

  • Fantastic. Now for all eternity (or as long as Slashdot archives remain on the 'net) there will be a direct link to your daughter's page in the midst of a discussion. Imagine the pride she will have when her friends point out that her father linked her site with the man.

    I think I'm tired of the Internet now.
  • There's a judicial decision in the Indianapolis video game case. [] which is a great read. Some excerpts:

    • Now that eighteen-year-olds have the right to vote, it is obvious that they must be allowed the freedom to form their political views on the basis of uncensored speech before they turn eighteen, so that their minds are not a blank when they first exercise the franchise. And since an eighteen-year-old's right to vote is a right personal to him rather than a right to be exercised on his behalf by his parents, the right of parents to enlist the aid of the state to shield their children from ideas of which the parents disapprove cannot be plenary either. People are unlikely to become well- functioning, independent-minded adults and responsible citizens if they are raised in an intellectual bubble.
    and a truly precious line
    • To shield children right up to the age of 18 from exposure to violent descriptions and images would not only be quixotic, but deforming; it would leave them unequipped to cope with the world as we know it.

    That's a good, realistic argument from a sitting judge.

  • When you're looking for something, use the Google search engine. (Among its other benefits, it's the most kid-friendly.) Always start your search with at least three words. Any fewer, and you're probably just wasting your time. Parents can help you learn how to pick three good words.

    And when using the Google search engine if you are looking for information about the book "Little Women" you should also include the author's name with your search.

  • Spoken like a child who is not ready to accept the fact that with freedom comes responsibility.
  • So you're saying that the MPAA doesn't have the freedom of speech to say 'we think that this movie is not appropriate for anybody under 18, and therefore we choose not to show it in the theaters we own?' They're not saying 'You cannot watch these movies,' they're saying 'You cannot watch these movies in our venues.' Much like if you showed up at a buddy's house with the all new DVD of IV - The Reckoning (with directors commentary) and he refused to watch it, he's not violating anything.
  • Yes, and they also took responsibility for their actions. If a young Roman nobleman went after somebody with a sword, he could expect to either win, or be killed in turn. If some 13 year old kid from Philly shoots somebody, he gets a slap on the wrist in Juvenile court, which winds up the same as being encouragement.
  • I'm 33
    What does age prove?
    In this case, the peeping parent is not giving his child freedom (to look at freely available information privately) or responsibility.
    You know, I sat down ready to start the rant, but then I thought, 'why bother?' If you honestly believe that letting a child metaphorically run free, then nothing I say will change that perception.
  • by SuiteSisterMary ( 123932 ) <slebrun@[ ] ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @04:35PM (#156567) Journal
    Show her the logfiles from squid and explain how you can keep track of every single site she visits.
    Lord knows it doesn't help when I tell the employees at the company I'm sysadmin for, so I know for sure that no 11 year old is going to care.
  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @04:35PM (#156570)
    Why, exactly, should it be "scary" to explain such a picture? It shows an abnormally deformed body part, probably due to frequent use. The same is true of Arnold Schwarzenegger's biceps. Why are you scared about the idea of someone inserting some large object in his anus, but not about the idea of someone spending several hours a day, for several years, thousands and thousands of hours in total, just to have the thickest arms in the world?

    Since I've never been buggered, nor have I ever pumped iron, I don't know which wastes more time, but they are two activities which aren't really productive in the material sense. There are some people who enjoy looking at such things, and there are people who hate them. But, largely, one may assume that both activities are done because the people who perform them enjoy doing so.

    In the end, the objective reason why is worse than Schwarzenegger is because social convention says it's so. What i would tell my own daughter would be something like "it's a man with some kind of mental disease, and the people who put that picture online did it because they thought it would be a good joke. You know what 14 year old boys are like..." (she probably does know)

  • Like what?
    Heaven forbid the poor thing grows up open-minded and in touch with the realities of the world...

    - Rei
  • by PotatoMan ( 130809 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @04:55PM (#156574)
    I'm impressed. You are one of the few parents that care enough to actively raise a child.

    Raising a child means being involved in that child's life. There is no ethical or moral problem with parenting your child by monitoring their online use.

    I'd suggest you use a proxy that logs all page requests. You can then review the logs and see where the child has been going. You should also correlate the times to dial-up activity (e.g., look at /var/log/messages); if there is a time gap in the web log vs. the dial-up, someone just learned how to bypass your proxy.

    Good job. Too bad you don't get her more often.

  • by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:01PM (#156575) Homepage
    Show her the logfiles from squid and explain how you can keep track of every single site she visits.

  • The problem with the arguments of the pro-censor lobby in that we must "protect" children from the harmful elements that exist on the Internet (George W. Bush is famously quoted as saying that the Internet "can turn [children's] hearts black") is that there is no proof either way. Just as there is no conclusive evidence that proves that a direct, cause-and-effect link doesn't exist between usage of the Internet and its effects on your child's/teenager's wellbeing, doesn't mean that it does exist. So both sides here can be accused of churning out biased, emotional and illogical crap in equal measures because there is this lack of proof either way.

    The only fair way to decide on issues such as this is on a case-by-case basis after looking at all the facts (such as the maturity of the child and previous experience). If you believe that your 15-year-old can take care of themselves on the Internet (which the vast majority of well-adjusted teenagers with a minor degree of common sense can do anyway), then let them have unrestricted access to the Internet. It's impossible to teach your kids any degree of responsibility and to teach them how to handle themselves in the "real world" if we are continually shielding them from it. There's not much on the Internet that kids/teenagers won't come into contact to through the "real world" and if you don't know this by now then you really have a lot to learn about life.

    So if you believe your kids/teenagers aren't ready for the joys (and dangers) that the Internet may hold then by all means install the software but make sure that you've talked it over with your son/daughter before you decide. If they feel that they are being left out of the decision- making process then they will most likely not feel compelled to follow your "rules". What we do need here is discussion, fact-finding and to include the kids/teenagers (ie. the people we are apparently trying to protect) in the process. What we don't need is inflammatory, baseless, "immediate action" rhetoric that only results in "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt" (FUD) and reactionary legislation that in the end does nothing to protect these people anyway (and never mind the JonKatz cracks).

    Self Bias Resistor
    "If it's stupid but it works, then it's not stupid." - Murphy's Laws of Combat

  • Yup. The Internet is an adult medium, as is television and most movies these days. Either you trust your child to understand all adult content, or you take parental responsibility by monitoring, restricting, educating, leading by example, etc.
  • You've obviously never had a pregnant teen, a teen with HIV or other STD, a teen in juvenile hall (jail), etc.

    The issue is that children are now exposed to adult behavior at earlier and earlier ages, before their minds fully understand the scope and impact of their behavior. _THAT_ is well established in psychological research.

  • If you wait for your kids to come to you with questions about sex you'll be waiting a looooong time.
    My eight-year-old asked some simple questions a while back. She knew that babies came from Mom's tummy, and knew that both Mom and Dad contributed, but wondered how that contribution happened.

    We told her the basic mechanics, along with what she was ready for in terms of our moral views on the subject. At her age there was not much drama...just a puzzling detail she couldn't figure out. I expect it to get way more "interesting" as she gets older.

  • How about just sitting down and explaining to her that there are a lot of sick people out there, on and off the net?

    How about teaching her to make proper judgements, because if she's curious, she will have access to awful things one way or another (friends house, the library, even, gasp, in a book).

    Plus sooner or later she will join the real world (TM) as a mature adult (C) and there will be no url log file or father sitting by her chair approving and disapproving of her choices.

    How about teaching her something instead of tying a leash and threatening with a url log stick?

    And what is even more amazing is the chorus of dittoheads recomending different strength leashes instead of suggesting teaching her the difference between good and bad.

  • by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:56PM (#156608)
    The fact that you need to have such a degree of control over your children is a chilling and horrible thought.

    Have you ever considered the consequences of seeking complete control of another humam being? A parent's role should be that of a shepard, not a guard dog. If you teach your child to think for himself (or herself) and use common sense, you'll end up with a free-thinking and mature young man or woman.

    A controlling, domineering parent will result in nothing but a angry and rebellious child or someone incapable of dealing with life and society in general.

    If you feel that you need to surreptitiously spy on your child, I pity you.
  • If you AREN'T monitoring them your are failing them.

    I can't agree. Kids need privacy too, kids are entitled to privacy. They need to be left alone to explore things on their own. It might be risky, but that's a chance one must accept for an individual to grow up. However, it is vitally important that the parents are there for them, and that parents understand when they are needed.

  • by unformed ( 225214 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:23PM (#156637)
    Spector [] records Screenshots, ALL POP3 and AOL email, ALL chat conversations in AIM, ICQ, MSN, and Yahoo! messengers, and additionally logs all keystrokes, along with a few other features. Furthermore, it is virtually undetectable.

    Their older version (2.2) was great. But in some time, they'll be releasing v3.0 which is truly kickass (Take this from someone who is beta-testing it now)

    Highly recommend for parents. Note: This doesn't block anything, but rather it LOGS everything.

    The parent can then decide what's inappropriate.
  • by wrinkledshirt ( 228541 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:12PM (#156640) Homepage
    Make sure she doesn't browse at -1. That alone will keep her clear of much racist humour, incorrect claims to "Frist Prost", and that unfortunate fellow whom we all wish would stop bending over.
  • by jsse ( 254124 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @05:32PM (#156664) Homepage Journal
    Just Talk To Your Kid.
  • by refactored ( 260886 ) <cyent.xnet@co@nz> on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @03:17PM (#156676) Homepage Journal
    Give them unfettered access to the 'net. Then watch and guide. If they spend time on sex sites, guide them to sex worker rights sites. If they get involved in IRC, explain the hazards and guide. Never abdicate your parental responsibility to software.

    Make sure they are aware of choices, that some do allow and some don't. Make sure they don't violate the choices of their friends parents. Guide them into seeing both points of view.

    Parenting isn't easy. Its undoubtably the most difficult job on the planet. Be aware that child minds are incredibly good meme hosts. Seed with lots of interlocking high value memes. Cultivate your child's meme ecology rather than censor it into barreness.

    You cannot weed a meme out of a childs mind, and you cannot keep it out forever. Your only hope is to seed it with the competing memes.

  • by BIGJIMSLATE ( 314762 ) on Tuesday June 12, 2001 @04:02PM (#156706)
    Just ask them about it:

    Pa: "Hey BOY?!"

    John-Boy: "Yeah Pa?"

    Pa: "You havn't been going to any of that gay porno on that internet, have ya'?"

    John-Boy: "No Pa, I'm only visiting Slashdot."

    Pa: "Slashdot? That sounds like gay porno to me"

    John-Boy: "No, see pa? Its a place where people have (semi-)intelligent discussions relating to technology, the news, and the law, and how it affects all of us in today's times."

    Pa: "Hm...well, I guess that's not so bad. What's that there link that some pussy coward put?"

    John-Boy: "Er...that's nothing."

    Pa: "Click it!"

    John-Boy: "No!"

    Pa: "I knew it, this is just another gay porno site!!!"

    John-Boy: "No pa! It's not! I swear!"

    *Pa takes the mouse and discovers what "goatse" means, and John-boy is whipped for the rest his life*

    Er....what was the point of this again? Oh yeah, just ask the freaking kids. Other than that, leave them alone, and let them discover the good and the bad the way the rest of us did. Those of us who held a firecracker in our hands as it blew never did it again, and any boy who ends up in a private chat with "SeXyOlDgUy69" deserves what he's going to get. I guarantee he'll never do it again. :p
  • I laid out the ground rules with my 10 year old daughter. The usual, pretty much Jamie's list above.

    Then one day I get an email from some site saying that they couldn't comply with *my* request to authorize my daughters account for something or other unless via snailmail.

    She'd forged an email from me (not hard... it's a family PC running 'doze) and tried to say "I forgot my password. Please authorize....". Luckily the site required snailmail confirmation in that situation.

    Needless to say, there was a discussion about responsibility and lying... I let her know that it would be some time before I could trust her fully online again, and oh, yes... she was grounded from the computer for a week, and after that, she was not allowed online for a month without me or my wife literally looking over her shoulder...

    Still better than filtering...

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire